There is definitely something special about cooking with ingredients that are fresh from the garden, but it’s even more special when it’s your garden they’ve come from. While it’s true that some of us definitely weren’t born with a green thumb, cultivating your own garden isn’t as impossible as you think – especially with these tips from TV’s gardening golden girl, Melissa King.
From herbs to fruits and even vegetables, Melissa King says you really can have it all – at least when it comes to your garden. And with several gardening shows across a range of networks, a book and even her own range of plants under her belt, we’re inclined to believe her. Having an ‘edible’ garden doesn’t mean just putting a couple of plastic pots of rosemary and basil on your windowsill and hoping for the best. These days, you can grow everything from peaches and cherries to cabbages and cauliflower, no matter how small your backyard is.
“I’m a big fan of dwarf plants, which only get to about 1.5m tall but still produce full-size fruits and vegetables,” says Melissa. “They will thrive in a large container in a sunny spot with a good quality potting mix.”
For fruits, Melissa suggests going for the Lots a’ Lemon variety of lemon trees, or the Trixzie fruit trees that offer peaches, nectarines, cherries and even pears. When it comes to vegies, leafy greens are your best bet – particularly for beginners. Go for lettuces and silver beets or cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage in these upcoming cooler months.
“Loose leaf lettuces in particular are often called ‘cut and come again’ plants, because you can just take the outside leaves and the plant will keep on growing,” Melissa says. “It’s like having a salad bar in your backyard.”
A smaller garden provides a lot of opportunity to change things up seasonally. While there are a few ‘perennial’ edible plants that grow all year round, like asparagus, rhubarb, some citrus fruit trees and even olives, Melissa suggests trying new variations throughout the year. She also recommends getting creative with the layout of your garden. For example, you can group your herbs by theme or cuisine, having all of your Mediterranean plants (oregano, basil, rosemary and marjoram) or your Asian herbs (chives, curry plants etc) in large, coloured pots. And now, for the all important question: how long do we have to wait to taste the fruits of our labour?
“It all depends on the crop – for slower-growing plants like broccoli, you could wait around 10 weeks,” says Melissa, “but for lettuce and other fast-growing plants, it could be just five weeks.”
But one thing is for sure – planting an edible garden is a long-term investment with seriously tasty results!
1. “Potting mix, potting mix, potting mix!” isn’t exactly a catchy cry, but it’s one thing you must keep in mind when creating and maintaining your garden. A good quality potting mix that is suited to your conditions is step number one for a delicious garden.
2. Water your garden every day, particularly if you’ve opted for potted plants. While they’re great for saving space, pot plants tend to dry out quicker, so consider adding some waterstoring crystals into the mix (potting mix, that is). Beyond that, liquid feed your plants every fortnight.
3. Choose plants that enjoy the growing conditions that your garden has to offer – everything from space and soil to sun should be considered before you choose your plants. Not sure? Head to www.thegardenettes.com.au for more.